Hong Kong is at the forefront of a legal battle as tobacco giant Philip Morris launches legal action over Australia’s plan for plain cigarette packaging.
Hong Kong-based Philip Morris Asia claims Australia will breach an investment treaty with the SAR.
Under proposed legislation to cut smoking and due to take effect next year, company designs would be removed from packaging. Instead, names go in the same font on bland olive-green packets, with graphic scenes such as diseased gums, blind eyes and children in hospital.
The idea has enraged tobacco giants, who say it would reduce profits as well and open the way for fake products as plain packaging is easier to reproduce.
“The forced removal of trade marks and other valuable intellectual property is a clear violation of the terms of the bilateral investment treaty between Australia and Hong Kong,” added PMA spokeswoman Anne Edwards.
Canberra says 15,000 Australians die of smoking-related diseases every year, and that tobacco use costs the country A$31.5 billion (HK$255.5 billion) a year in health care and lost productivity.